Random Musings on Fatherhood
Fatherhood is a lot harder than I thought. I guess I never really thought about how hard it would be if I’m honest. I just focused on being different or “better” than a lot of the men I grew up around. But at any rate, below are a few quick things I’ve learned over the years…
1) No Days Off…
“You sick dad? Naw you not sick. Can you do X,Y,Z… and X1, X2…?” So on and so forth. You get the drill. Nobody cares that you have a cold, the flu, or whatever. The expectation is that you’re still dad. You might get an hour or two break to take a nap or walk it off, but that’s about it.
2) Babies Have NO Conscience WHATSOEVER
I swear my son wakes up every morning at like 1:47 am crying at a frequency somehow only dads ears are able to pick up. Like, “Dad, you sleep? Come get me NOOOOOOOOOW!” After putting him back to sleep we repeat the process several times before I catch that final stretch of sleep between 5:00 am and 7:00 am.
3) Life is NOT, I repeat, NOT Like Those Old TV Sitcoms
“Daddy’s home!!” Nobody even cares sometimes. They look at you like “Psht, where u been?” or “Do you see what time it is?” It doesn’t matter what kind of day you had. “It’s bath time now.” Time to get that soap and that water running.
4) It’s Always Playtime
Did you know that kids were comedians? Well all of mine are. I’ve never been roasted by a two year old…until my daughter Eden came along. Just today I’m joking around with my oldest about my Pepsi habit, saying “Girl you know we are a Pepsi family” (as she asks for a Coke). Out of nowhere come this small, almost annoyed voice saying “No. No we are not Dad.” Funny thing is that they only seem to have this playtime-when-it-ain’t-time complex when it comes to dad. Mom is revered and loved. Her words are respected… but naw not daddy. Kids want to jump on daddy. Throw stuff. Shoot fake fireballs. Laugh at daddy. And the list goes on.
But you know, it’s not all bad. Hidden within each of the items on my, far from exhaustive, list are gems. Lessons to be learned. Joys to partake in. Below I will attempt to re-frame each of the items from above.
1) Be a Hero
Heroes don’t take sick days. Beneath the exterior of the “get over it” or straight up denial mindset of children, lies a sense of high regard. A “herofication” of Dad. Dad mentally becomes a sort of superhuman. Impervious to harm. Always steady. As a Dad, I can complain, or step up my game. Moms often display these sort of traits. Dads can and should do the same.
2) Enjoy The Time Spent (yes, even at 3am)
Because I often don’t get in from work until late, the nighttime (and middle of the nighttime) routine is my time to bond with my son. It’s quite beautiful that when my son is sleepy, and I’m around, he almost always wants to come to me. It’s special. We’ve got a routine. I’ve got the perfect pat, hum, rock, combo. But that only comes with practice. So I try to really just enjoy the time I spend with my kids. All of it. Even if it is 3:30 am and I have a meeting at 7:00. Well, some days it’s easier said than done.
3) Put On The Game Face
When you have infants and toddlers and such, they are almost always happy to see you. When they start to get older, sometimes they have a hard way of showing it. Or at least, they aren’t focused on showing it. I used to get bothered when it seemed like my oldest could care less when I came home. I would think that I had done something wrong. I would take things really personal. But then it hit me. I realized she’s a person too. A much smaller person. But a person nonetheless. Most days she’s had her own set of experiences that have contributed to her mood. Some days it is me, and that’s okay too. But now before I enter the house I put on my game face. I try to make sure I come in happy to see everyone, regardless of the kind of workday I had. It has helped tremendously. You learn quickly that the kids are happy to see dad. They just prefer to see “happy dad with the jokes” than, “I had a really rough day (everyday)” dad. Me too.
4) Have Fun
Sometimes, I admit, I’m not always in a playful mood. But I try to always have fun with my kids. Now you do have to set some boundaries. But you end up with some of the greatest moments in life when you are willing to clown a bit. My 2 year old superhero daughter shoots fireballs, freeze rays and kahmehamehas at me. My preteen daughter and I get into epic rap battles. And I have turned my seven month old into a drum machine (still can’t explain how beat boxing soothes this kid more than twinkle twinkle little star). He’s like a reincarnated 80's baby or something. He loves the stuff.
Now I’m not a parenting expert. But these are just a few random thoughts of mine on a Friday night, while I have a cold and can’t do much else but write and check emails. Hope something will help at least one person out there.